As part of National Arthritis Week, Arthritis Research UK are asking everyone living with arthritis to share their experience as part of their 'Share Your Day - Shape Our Future' campaign. By describing the daily pain and challenges you face you can help them shape future research into new treatments.
I think it's an incredibly brave campaign. Arthritis is often dismissed as just aches and pains but anyone who suffers from it will know that that pain can be all encompassing and soul-sapping. However, describing the way it affects you can be incredibly difficult. I don't really like to talk about how hard I find living with arthritis. When I've been interviewed about the blog I always say that I don't want to talk about the negative aspects of the illness too much. Partly, it's because I prefer to try to be optimistic - there are worse conditions and I've seen plenty of close friends and family affected by them, and partly, it's because I'm simply not brave enough to describe how it feels. Daily pain is draining. I manage most days with a handful of painkillers and sheer bloody mindedness. The days that I have struggle to play with my daughter, wash my hair or get a spoon in my mouth are the days I want to forget. I'm sure many of you are the same. How many times when the consultant asks how you are have you said 'fine thanks, and you?' before realising that wasn't really the answer needed?
The truthful answer, that description of the way the pain colours your day, can be harder to articulate but that's the answer that medical professionals, researchers and policy makers need to help improve the lives of people with arthritis. And, as easy as it is to say ' I'm fine' it's not always the way to spare others feelings. Sometimes friends and family need to hear how your arthritis affects you so they don't take it personally when you say you can't manage something.
So, this National Arthritis Week, be a bit brave, if not for yourself then for others, and help Arthritis Research UK by sharing your story.